How to Prepare for Adopting a Cat

Published: 6/17/2021
Congratulations on your decision to add a new feline member to your family! Cats get a bad rap for being aloof and disagreeable, but they’re actually affectionate little animals who make wonderful companions. While welcoming a cat into your home is an exciting experience, it’s also one that calls for preparation. Felines are especially sensitive to new surroundings, so you want to make sure your new friend has as smooth a transition as possible.
Here are some tips on preparing for a cat adoption!

#1 Budget for the costs of a cat.

There’s a cost associated with taking care of a feline companion, and that amount depends on your cat’s needs and your own lifestyle. But expect to spend at least $405 for the first year and roughly $340 for each subsequent year. You’ll be able to save more if you adopt your furry friend from a shelter, as adoption fees typically cover initial vaccines, spaying or neutering, and microchipping

Other costs that come with having a cat include veterinary care, food, treats, flea and tick prevention, litter, toys, and cat sitting. If you’re inclined to splurge on your four-legged pal, you can also add professional grooming, birthday cakes, and a pet camera to the list.

#2 Go shopping for supplies.

It’s important to have all the essentials ready before your cat arrives so that they can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need: 

  • A breakaway collar and ID tag.
  • Food and treats.
  • A food bowl and a water bowl. Cats don’t like to eat and drink in the same spot as they don’t want their water supply to be contaminated, so place the bowls away from each other.
  • A comfy bed. Cats like sleeping in different places; provide one or two extra beds if you can. 
  • A litter box. A litter box with a low opening on one side is a good choice for all cats, including senior felines and young kittens. 
  • Cat litter. A litter with a fine, sand-like consistency is recommended.
  • A scratching post. Make sure it’s a new one! A used scratching post that has the smells of other felines will stress out your new cat. 
  • Toys. Play prevents boredom and satisfies your cat’s natural hunting instinct.
  • Grooming tools. Brushing is especially important for long-haired cats.
  • A well-ventilated cat carrier. This is a must-have for trips to the vet.

#3 Set up a safe room.

Cats are territorial critters and being in a strange place can make them feel uneasy. A safe room will provide them with the security they need as they adjust to their new home over the next few days or weeks. It can be any size, but it should have a door and ceiling. It needs to be private too—no kids, other pets, or guests allowed. Remind other human family members that the door is to remain closed at all times. 

Furnish the safe room with food, water, a litter box, a scratching post, and a bed. See to it that there aren’t any items lying around that can harm your cat. Your new friend will likely be nervous and want to get away from it all—give them places to hide by draping sheets or towels over chairs. Cardboard boxes work well too.  

Drop by the safe room frequently for short periods. During your visits, you can play or interact with your cat or just be in the same space doing something else. Make sure they have toys like mice and balls to play with when you’re not around.

#4 Cat-proof your home.

Once you’ve gained your furry friend’s trust, you can let them out of the safe room and allow them to explore the rest of the house under your supervision. But before you do that, you need to make sure that your home has been cat-proofed. Here are some things to consider:

  • Remove any items that your cat might chew on, swallow, or knock over.
  • Keep trash bins out of reach and securely covered.
  • Never leave food out on the kitchen counter to discourage them from jumping on counters. 
  • If you have plants in your home, check if they are toxic to cats. Many plants are harmful to felines.
  • Store toxic household products such as medications, cleaning supplies, and paint safely and properly.
  • Venetian blind cords can cause strangulation; keep them short or tied up.
  • Fishing rod toys pose the same risk; always put them away when not in use.
  • Keep electric cords and plastic bags out of reach. 
  • Keep the windows closed during your cat’s first few weeks at home.

#5 Plan the introductions.
If you have other pets, do not try to introduce your new cat to them immediately upon arrival. A successful introduction will require a bit of planning and a lot of patience. Let your new addition and resident cat or dog smell each other from under the safe room door first before letting them meet face-to-face.

Being prepared when bringing a new cat home will help ensure a smooth transition for the newest member of the family!


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